Hostas are a perennial favorite among gardeners. Their lush foliage and easy care make them ideal for a low maintenance garden. Originating in the Orient and brought to Europe in the 1700s, there are over 2,500 cultivars with such variety in leaf shape, size, and texture, that an entire garden could be devoted to growing Hostas alone.
The color of a Hosta's leaves can help determine how much light it prefers. Blue and deep green varieties like deeper shade, while variegated (striped or splotched bicolor leaves) and yellowish varieties require some morning sun. Harsh afternoon sun can scorch Hosta leaves.
Hostas prefer an inch (2.5 cm) of water a week, whether it's from rainfall or irrigation. If you water by hand, do so early in the day. Burnt leaf tips and drooping leaves are signals of inadequate water.
Rich, slightly acidic, well-draining soil produces the best Hostas. Add organic matter such as compost, manure, leaf mold, or peat moss when preparing the planting hole. Mix well, and do not let manure contact the roots directly because this can cause discoloration of the leaves.
Apply a 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 all-purpose fertilizer according to package directions if the soil is poor. Otherwise, topdress with well-rotted manure or compost.
Plant Hostas in spring or fall. Bury the crown slightly so it will stay moist, unless the soil is very heavy, in which case leave the crown at ground level. Leave a depression around the plant so that at first waterings, the water soaks directly toward the root.
Mulch in spring. In cold-winter areas, add a mulch of straw or leaves again in fall after the ground has frozen.
Watch for slugs and snails, which eat small holes in Hosta leaves. Fill jar lids with beer and submerge in soil. Slugs will climb in and drown. Alternatively, surround Hostas with coarse sand and broken eggshells. Slugs do not like to crawl over sharp, rough surfaces. Grow Hostas in pots standing on stone or cement.
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